L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Nutrition

Ask a Vet: What should I do for a puppy who won't eat breakfast?

Have a nonemergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford offers some tips for dealing with a puppy who refuses to eat breakfast.

DogEat Jillian's question: My friend adopted Poppy, a 6- month-old puppy, from the county shelter. However, Poppy, who is fed three small meals a day, has been refusing to eat breakfast. She will eat lunch and dinner, but she picks at her food and does not always finish. My friend gives her Wellness dog food and mixes in some wet food as well. Is this a sign of illness? Do you have any recommendations to encourage young Poppy to eat?

Heather Oxford, DVM: This is actually one of the most common questions I am asked as a veterinarian. Some dogs are just finicky, or don't seem to be very food-motivated. In these cases, the most common meal for them to skip is breakfast, and they usually require a little bit of activity or stimulation to become hungry. Also, if your friend is going by the feeding instructions on the pet food bag, there is a strong possibility it is simply too much food. In general, food labels instruct owners to feed 2-3 times what their metabolic requirements call for, which is a major cause of animal obesity in this country.

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Hungry hounds, rejoice: Ice cream truck for dogs to debut at London pet party

Dogloves ice cream

The world's first ice cream van for dogs will open for business at a "pet party" in London's Regent's Park on Saturday.

The van will serve canine-friendly flavors such as "Dog Eat Hog World" -- a chicken and gammon sorbet -- and "Canine Cookie Crunch," a more traditional vanilla ice cream, albeit sprinkled with dog biscuits.

"The weather has been so hot, we thought dogs deserved a cooling treat as much as anyone else," said Sally Bezant of event organizer Boomerang Pets Party.

She said a team of pet nutritionists had been through a complicated scientific process to determine the tastiest and safest flavors for the dogs' dessert.

And although the unusual flavors were tested on a panel of dogs, they can be eaten by humans.

"It's safe for humans ... I've tried it myself," she told Reuters, adding, perhaps diplomatically, that doggie ice-cream tasted "different."

Ask a Vet: Are fruits and nuts safe treats for dogs?
Pet obesity an expanding problem, say veterinarians, nutrition experts

-- Alessandra Prentice, Reuters

Photo: A basset hound tries to get a lick of her owner's ice cream. She'd be happy to know that dog-friendly ice cream is hitting the streets! Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Ask a Vet: Are fruits and nuts safe treats for dogs?

Have a nonemergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford has some tips for reader Jasmine about the dangers of feeding some "people foods" to dogs:

Grapes Jasmine's question: Hi Dr. Oxford, is it safe to feed dogs fruits and nuts?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Great question, especially with us going into fruit season. Fruits and nuts that are toxic include grapes, raisins and macademia nuts. Feeding large amounts of rinds of citrus fruits can also cause toxicity due to increased ingestion of essential oils. All other fruits and nuts are not known to be toxic to dogs, but must be fed in moderation or else gastrointestinal issues could occur.

To submit your question for Dr. Oxford, just leave a comment on this post or send us a tweet @LATunleashed and look for her answer in an upcoming installment of Ask a Vet!

About our vet: Dr. Oxford received her bachelor of science degree at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. She also received a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from Emory University and went on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She then went to the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree. She practices at California Animal Rehabilitation and is also certified in veterinary rehabilitation and acupuncture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Wade, and German shepherd, Tess.

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Salmonella concerns prompt voluntary recalls of some Natural Balance dry dog food, Pro-Pet dog vitamins

Several companies that manufacture food and supplements for dogs have issued recalls over salmonella concerns over the past few weeks.

Natural Balance Pet Foods, the company co-founded by actor Dick Van Patten, has issued a voluntary recall of its Sweet Potato & Chicken dry dog food after random-sample testing by the FDA revealed salmonella contamination. Products affected by the recall are 5-pound and 28-pound bags with a "best by" date of June 17, 2011.

Recalled Natural Balance Dog Food

Natural Balance has stressed to its customers that it has received no complaints of adverse affects in dogs that have eaten the affected food, but says it is recalling it out of an abundance of caution. Further testing conducted at Natural Balance's request in an independent laboratory found no evidence of salmonella, according to the company.

"I am sure your dogs are like my dogs -- they sleep on our beds, they watch TV with us and if they are lucky enough, they come to work with us. This is why we are following the FDA’s recommendation and issuing a voluntary recall," Natural Balance President Joey Herrick wrote in a letter posted on the company's website. "Since we have not had any complaints on this product and it was manufactured six months ago, I expect that most of it has already been consumed."

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Procter & Gamble announces voluntary recall of some Iams canned cat food over thiamine concerns

Iams The Procter & Gamble Co., which owns the Iams pet food brand, announced a voluntary recall of canned Iams ProActive Health cat and kitten foods Wednesday.

The affected cat and kitten foods contain dates between September 2011 and June 2012 printed on the bottom of the cans.

"Diagnostic testing indicated that the product may contain insufficient levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1), which is essential for cats," Procter & Gamble said in a news release Wednesday. "Cats that were fed these canned products as their only food are at greater risk for developing signs of thiamine deficiency."

Procter & Gamble, in its news release, advised cat owners who have purchased the affected food to throw it out, although Petco, a major Iams distributor, said in its own release that it expects to have details soon about a refund process for affected cat food cans.

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Pet obesity an expanding problem, say veterinarians, nutrition experts

Dogtreadmill The popularity of cats and dogs isn't the only thing that has grown in the last 20 years. So have their bellies.

Some veterinarians say Americans are feeding their pets to death without even knowing it.

Treats take the brunt of the blame, said North Carolina veterinarian Ernie Ward, author of a book released earlier this year called "Chow Hounds" and founder of the Assn. of Pet Obesity Prevention. He calls treats "kibble crack" and "calorie grenades."

"We confuse food with love. In the dog world, what they want most is interaction and affection. It's not a cry for food, it's a cry for attention," he said.

The most egregious offense may be the "guilt treat" -- those dropped by the handful when pets have to be left alone, said Marion Nestle, a nutritionist, New York University professor and author of the 2006 book for humans called "What to Eat." Her book with Cornell animal nutrition expert Malden C. Nesheim, "Feed Your Pet Right," is due in bookstores this month.

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Nature's Variety pet food recall expands over salmonella concerns

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nature's Variety has expanded its recall of chicken-flavored pet food because of concerns over salmonella.

The Lincoln, Neb.-based company said Monday that the raw, frozen food is being recalled because it could be contaminated with salmonella.

The recall includes three-pound packages of chicken medallions, six-pound packages of chicken patties and two-pound packages of chicken chubs.

Initially, the company recalled only packages with a best-by date of Nov. 10, 2010. Now packages with best-by dates of Oct. 29 and Nov. 9, 2010, are also being recalled.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Pets can also become ill if they consume the bacteria.

-- Associated Press

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Ask a Vet: How can I address my senior dog's lack of appetite?

Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health?  Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help!  In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford has some tips for reader Doris on helping her dog cope with appetite and arthritis issues.

Dog food Doris' question: How can I increase my 13-year-old, 3.2-pound male Chihuahua's appetite? He is on daily Metacam for painful arthritis. [Editor's note: Metacam is a pain-relief medication for animals.] He sleeps on a heating pad on very low. He had all his teeth removed last year due to very bad gum disease. The only thing he seems to like is chicken and he will skip several, twice-daily regular meals.

[Doris notes that her dog's problems seem to have increased since his mother, with whom he had a strong bond, died last year.] Would getting another girl puppy Chihuahua help to keep him company? I have tried to give him more TLC and attention, but still he is a very poor eater.

Heather Oxford, DVM: Although it is possible that your pup is mourning the loss of his mother, a serious medical condition may be causing the decreased appetite.  I have seen this many times in practice, and sometimes the signs of illness were present but not recognized due to focused attention on the ailing older pet. 

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Ask a Vet: What type of dog food and supplements should I feed my dog for optimum health?

Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health?  Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help!  In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford offers some helpful canine-nutrition advice to reader Vicki.

Pumpkin dog Vicki's question: What supplement and feeding regimen should we follow to keep our German shepherd/greyhound mix healthy and free from joint issues? The only conditions she currently has are horrible shedding all year long and recurrent anal gland issues.

Heather Oxford, DVM:  Starting with the food, one of the most important things to remember is to read the ingredient list and don't trust that it's good quality just because the bag says "Veterinarian Recommended" or because it's sold in veterinarian clinics.  Dog food companies utilize advertising strategies like this to attract consumer attention to the bag, but the ingredient list doesn't lie.  Since ingredients are listed in decreasing order by weight, you should always look for the meats to be the first ingredients.

Never buy a food that lists corn, byproducts, meat flavor, or other poor-quality ingredients within the first three items (or at all, ideally!).  You should also look on the label to confirm that the food meets Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards for being complete and balanced, in addition to successfully passing feeding trials.

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Some Premium Edge cat food products recalled; FDA warns dog owners about possible salmonella contamination in Pet Carousel pigs' ears, beef hooves


Pet owners have been advised about potential adverse health effects related to two varieties of Premium Edge cat food and several dog chew-toy products manufactured by the Pet Carousel company. In the unlikely event that any of the affected products made it into your home, here's a rundown of the products and what to do if you purchased one:

-- The Diamond Pet Foods company has issued a voluntary recall on some bags of Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat and Premium Edge Hairball cat foods due to insufficient levels of thiamine, which can lead to gastrointestinal and neurological problems in cats. Bags of those varieties bearing the codes RAF0501A22X 18lb., RAF0501A2X 6 lb., RAF0802B12X 18lb (BB30FEB11), RAH0501A22X 18 lb. and RAH0501A2X 6lb., manufactured May 28 and Aug. 30, were pulled from store shelves in September, according to the company. The Associated Press reports that 21 reports of health problems in cats that consumed the affected food have been reported in New York and Pennsylvania, although the most recent incident was in October; the food was distributed in 18 states along the Eastern Seaboard. Any pet owner who bought an affected product is asked to return it for a full refund at the store from which it was purchased. Concerned customers can contact the company at (800) 977-8797 for more information.

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